* Leaders commit to revamping the economy * Plan includes developing a multi-level parking

The leadership of the oldest mining town and the country’s second city, Francistown, have lined up a number of strategies to facilitate investment and turn around the economy of the northern gateway business hub.

The ambitious multibillion Pula Francistown Revitalisation Plan (FRP) was approved in February 2019 but had to be shelved due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

A visit to the Civic Centre, the headquarters of the 'City of All Things Precious' shows that the leadership has bought into talk that cities are supposed to be engines of economic growth and have to be productive, livable, sustainable and prosperous.

They have now undertaken to revamp the city’s economy leveraging the environmental, social and cultural aspects.

The city has a population of 103 417 people according to the 2022 Population Census. It has a higher number of females than males. Overall, Francistown is home to 4.38 per cent of Botswana’s national population and 22.8 per cent of the urban population in the country.

Francistown Development Plan is aligned to the national development agenda and priorities and is guided by policy documents including, the Local Economic Development Strategy, Francistown Spatial Development Plan, Francistown Urban Development Plan, Vision 2036, Sustainable

Development Goals, and the Economic Recovery and Transformation Plan.

City Clerk, Lopang Pule told this publication that FRP is a renaissance strategy for the Blue Jacket Street Corridor aimed at reorganising and redeveloping the Central Business District and improving its linkages with all neighbourhoods.

He said the plan underscores the linkages between the quality of the spatial environment and investor confidence and that the Council intends to develop multi-level parking in the City Centre. The projects are anticipated “to bring a facelift of the area and also ease traffic congestion in the CBD”.

The tender for the development of the Central Market plot which the Revitalisation Plan has also identified as mixed-use, housing small-scale enterprises has been awarded.

The plan has also identified the Tati River as an asset to promote leisure and encourage riverfront development among others.

Pule mentioned the Urban Renewal Project which entails implementing quick-win projects that include, Clean-up campaign, Painting of the main house on 168 plots, Installation of waste bins in 250 plots, Numbering of 250 plots and Tree planting.

This will all be done under the Participatory Slums Upgrading Programme, which promotes community participation in their development.

The City dwellers will appreciate the development of the Nyangabgwe hill layout into an upmarket Resort which will house an amusement park, events garden, cultural village and a Grand Bazaar (covered market) developed under Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

The other development is that of the old Golf course. The intention is to do a geotechnical study of the area, followed by the development of the area into a prestigious mixed-use development.

The Council has identified areas within the Central Business District where the private sector can operate paid or metered parking within Council on-street parking, Development of Market Areas with one market area already located within the CBD extension, another in Somerset East next to the Kenneth Nkhwa interchange.

The Council has also earmarked the old Magistrate’s court and Information Services plot for a flea or open square market, as well as long-term leases of the Dumela Industrial plots to foster growth in the manufacturing sector.

FCC will also partner with BR Properties to develop a mixed-use development in their plot that is submerged between light industrial and Jubilee known as Railways football grounds.

Pule revealed that six parks are earmarked for outsourcing to the private sector, and other small parks within the neighbourhoods are being operated and managed by Ward Development Committees (WDC) as his Council encourages private sector participation in the development of WDC-managed parks through partnerships.

Pule said they have the Francistown Investment House - and their Vision 2022 seeks to create a city of vibrancy and they recognise the importance of the private sector in actualising this dream. Mobilisation for the city to be a mining and logistics hub was done.

He said stakeholder collaboration between Special Economic Zone Authority, Botswana Investment and Trade Centre, Business Botswana and Council is in place to facilitate. He said they have a Local Economic Development (LED) and the Francistown LED Projects based on turning waste into a resource through the collection, management and recycling for a ‘Clean and Green ‘Botswana, Development of Industrial Waste Management and value addition, Green transformation process with lower or no output of polluting materials, Skills transfers and the feasibility study for the project is currently ongoing.

Pule further revealed that FCC has come up with investment mapping that gives insight into sectors that investors can invest in, including the fact that there are over 20 mines situated within a 200KM radius from Francistown.

Opportunities include Exploration, Processing Plants, Gold, Soda ash, Copper/Nickel, Mining logistics and supplies, Joint Ventures with Existing Mining Houses and Beneficiation Strategies and Opportunities.

There is also the Real Estate and property development which has Commercial Real Estate, shopping malls and office complexes, as well as Industrial Real Estate, Heavy industrial complexes, Light industrial complexes, Factory shells – single and multiple, and Warehouse and storage facilities. The Residential Real Estate provides for the middle-Income residences, Student accommodation. Currently, Francistown has over six campuses with thousands of students from the University of Botswana, Baisago, Botho University, ABM University, Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education, GIPS, Gaborone University College of Law, BAC, and Botswana Open University.